The Government Has Blood on Its Hands

An article in The Washington Post this past week entitled A Death Every 30 Seconds revealed this sobering statistic regarding the COVID-19 crisis, which is currently at its highest rate of infection in the United States since the pandemic began. The article states that “every time you listen to Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas,’ about five people have died of the virus between the beginning and the end of the song…. On Sept. 12, the number of new cases began to increase, rising from about 34,000 new cases a day to, at this point, more than 219,000. The number of deaths from covid-19 has similarly ballooned, rising from 728 to nearly 2,600 a day.”

The WaPo headline reminded me of a sticker from the 1980s by an AIDS activist artist collective called Gran Fury that shows a bloody hand with the text, “The Government Has Blood on Its Hands” and “One AIDS Death Every Half Hour.” Someone used a marker to cross off the “One” on this sticker and write “3” over it.

Christian LiClair’s article about the Gran Fury image lays out an important point:

“The image of the bloody trace is especially striking in the context of AIDS, since blood plays a crucial part in negotiating the disease and thus advanced to a collective symbol of fear: After a virus was detected as the cause for the immunodeficiency syndrome, blood was not only known as one possible medium of contamination but also served as the site for the virus detection – and as a consequence thereof as a marker of an identity as the sero-positive other. In contrast, Gran Fury’s blood trail signifies a murder: The death of the absent individual is thus not articulated as a consequence on behalf of the HIV-positive individual and the infected blood, but as the result of a political system (italics mine).

I wonder what sort of image and text would work today for a political graphic sticker regarding the coronavirus?

Meanwhile, in the United States: